Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has rapidly spread across the globe, affecting nearly every country in the world. In addition to the health and humanitarian crises it is causing, there is no doubt that it is also having a huge impact on the world economy and nearly every sector and industry, especially in regard to supply chains. Despite the clear and profound negative effects, this situation also presents an opportunity to not only to test and review crisis management systems, but to improve resiliency and better prepare for future crises.

Here are four ways your business can benefit from the coronavirus pandemic in the long term:

  1. It is forcing companies to be more flexible and come up with creative solutions. Individuals and companies everywhere have been unexpectedly flung outside of their comfort zones. With the global economic expansion that has lasted for nearly a decade, many companies have become increasingly dependent on highly-integrated systems and supply chains that focus almost exclusively on China to meet their manufacturing needs. Now, companies are facing disruptions in not only their supply chains, but also to travel and demand, and are being pushed to develop new and innovative solutions.

Now is a good time to get used to the idea that the only constant in this quickly-changing world is change. Work on improving your company’s evolvability and trust your team to formulate non-traditional solutions. Implement them sooner rather than later, and don’t allow bureaucratic processes or information overload keep you from taking action. Once you’ve tested new solutions, carefully observe how they work and reassess as the situation evolves, adjusting course as necessary. Success in the long-term will lie in your ability to continually adapt, and those who can do it more quickly and in innovative ways will come out on top.

  1. It is an opportunity to improve business processes and review and update crisis management systems. No one wants to have a crisis happen without the contingencies in place to handle it, and this event is making it clear that we all face risks—both expected and unexpected. By carefully documenting what you learn through this situation, you will be able to create better processes and plans and pinpoint opportunities for improvement. In the face of dynamic challenges, uncertainty and crises, preparedness is key.

This is a poignant reminder of the importance of regularly updating your crisis management plans and systems. They need to be reviewed regularly as information becomes available and new threats arise. When updating them, focus on building redundancy into your company’s systems, processes and long-term plans, and rely on multiple approaches.

For short-term crisis management, you can improve communication by focusing on updating information regularly throughout your organization on all levels. By establishing a small team of trusted decision-makers, and giving them the autonomy they need to come up with creative and non-traditional solutions, you will be able respond and adapt quickly as the situation evolves.

  1. It is a time for your company to show its true colors. Challenging times put your leadership and social responsibility to the test, and people will remember how you reacted as a corporate citizen long after this has passed. It is an opportunity contribute to a larger solution and show your solidarity with not only your own employees, but also others in your supply chain, sector, and local community. Look for ways your business can help, whether through donations, providing free services, or launching special offers, depending on your specific capabilities and strengths.

  1. It is an opportunity to find new options for solving supply chain disruptions. With supply chains already under strain due to the trade war, the virus is now making it clear that companies cannot depend on a single source for their manufacturing needs. Have you heard about shelter services in Mexico? If you haven’t, now is the perfect time to be proactive and keep an open mind about options you may have previously overlooked, and you might be pleasantly surprised at what you find. For example, car manufacturers have turned to Mexico due to recent supply chain disruptions China. Companies are finding that the automotive industry in Mexico is in a strong position to meet their manufacturing needs both in the short and long term. The benefits of reducing imports from Asia are twofold: companies both lessen their dependency on a single source, and allow other regions to strengthen their capacities, consequently making them more competitive.

Despite the enormous strain this crisis is putting on the global economy, there are ways to ensure that your company can make the best of it and be better prepared to overcome new challenges. Keeping an open mind, implementing creative solutions, and focusing on building modular, flexible and adaptable systems and processes will allow you to come out of this situation more prepared and ready for whatever the future may hold.

By Alma Rosa Ortega López, American Industries Group Institutional Relations
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